Stage 5 took the peloton from the mountain town of Alp to Valls. While the profile looked to be almost all downhill, it was certainly not as the riders climbed over 6,000 ft of total elevation. On top of that, gusty winds added to the challenge and made it a very difficult day on the peloton.
After a very fast start covering over 55 kilometers within the first hour, a three man break away finally broke free. Many thought today would be an easier day and hoped the peloton would let the stage go to one of the three.
That was not to be the case as Giant and Bretagne took up the pace making and kept the break within 3 minutes for most of the race. With about 40 kilometers to go, the race took an unexpected twist with an attack from Movistar followed up by an attack from Sky into the wind that split the peloton into 8 groups. A 16 rider group broke free with many GC favorites left behind including the race leader DeClerc and 4th place overall and past Volta champion Dan Martin.
Behind a frantic chase was on but the front group work well with the strong tail cross winds and extended their advantage to over a minute at the finish. In the final Valverde attacked and rode solo to the finish to cap off an incredible performance by Movistar.
Richie Porte now leads the overall, and while the time gaps in the peloton have opened up, the podium in this race are still just separated by seconds.
Stage 6 is another difficult stage with a Cat 1 climb in the middle and a Cat 3 near the finish. Looks like a stage perfect for the break to go all the way to the finish.
I was able to do a little bit of riding around the mountains yesterday. I absolutely fell in love with the little mountain town of Alp. From the quaint town, to the architecture, to the riding, I loved it all. When I incredulously asked Tom why he would ever move from such an amazing place?
He replied, “high speed internet and civilization.” (I rest my case)
But if for some reason you ever find yourself wandering around the Pyrenees make sure you go to Alp, go on a bike ride and get a REAL spanish chocolate doughnut after. If there’s one thing Spain is good at, it’s chocolate.